Corthera Closes $23 Million Financing Round
SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 20 - Corthera Inc. today announced it has closed a $23 million Series C financing. New investor Caxton Advantage Life Sciences Fund, a fund focused on development-stage public and private companies in the life sciences field, joined existing top-tier investors Domain Associates and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers in the financing round. Corthera will use the financing to advance the clinical development of its lead drug candidate, Relaxin, for the treatment of acute heart failure.
The company also announced it has named Stan E. Abel president and chief executive officer. Prior to joining Corthera, Abel was the chief financial officer and co-founder of Cerexa Inc. and played a key role in the company's sale to Forest Laboratories Inc. in January 2007. Before this, he was chief financial officer of Peninsula Pharmaceuticals Inc. from January 2003 until its sale to Johnson & Johnson in June 2005. Earlier in his career, he gained extensive pharmaceutical industry experience within the finance, strategy and business development organizations at Eli Lilly & Co.
"The strong investor interest validates the potential of Relaxin as an effective therapeutic for acute heart failure," said Abel. "With the side effect concerns of existing vasodilator treatments, patients suffering from acute heart failure have an urgent need for safer, more effective therapies."
According to the American Heart Association, heart failure is a costly cardiac and renal syndrome affecting more than 550,000 new patients per year, with projected direct and indirect costs at $33.2 billion in 2007. Acute heart failure is characterized by fluid overload (congestion), especially in the lungs, that causes shortness of breath and other complications. The current standard of care includes diuretics and vasodilators. Diuretics, which promote fluid excretion, are associated with renal complications. Vasodilators tested to date have been linked to hypotension, renal impairment and adverse outcomes.
"We are delighted that Stan has joined the Corthera team," said Brian Dovey, partner at Domain Associates. "He brings a track record of growing successful late-stage development companies and managing the development of products with significant clinical and commercial potential."
"Given Relaxin's beneficial hemodynamic properties, it is very well-suited for patients suffering from acute heart failure," said Rachel Leheny, Ph.D., managing director of Caxton Advantage Life Sciences Fund. "We are looking forward to working with the Corthera team as they develop Relaxin for this largely unmet medical need."
Relaxin is a naturally occurring peptide hormone that acts as a moderately potent and targeted vasodilator. Elevated levels of Relaxin are thought to modulate increases in renal and cardiac function that meet the increased hemodynamic demands of pregnancy. Consistent with this natural role of the hormone, pharmaceutically manufactured Relaxin has been shown to have these effects in multiple human studies of men and non-pregnant women. Data from a pilot study in patients with heart failure support the expectation that these effects can be beneficial in relieving the signs and symptoms of heart failure.
Corthera, formerly BAS Medical Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company committed to acquiring, developing and commercializing therapies for illnesses in the acute care setting. Corthera's lead product candidate, Relaxin, is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for acute heart failure and preeclampsia. Corthera licensed from Connetics Inc. the exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Relaxin.